Imatges de pÓgina
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THE

NEW YORK REVIEW.

No. I.

MARCH, 1837.

ART. I.-The Life of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, with parts of his Correspondence never before published, and Notices of his opinions on questions of civil government, national policy, and constitutional law. By GEORGE TUCKER, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Virginia. Two vols. 8vo. Philadelphia, Carey, Lea and Blanchard. 1837.

"It was the fate of Thomas Jefferson to be at once more loved and praised by his friends, and more hated and reviled by his adversaries, than any of his compatriots." Such is the first sentence in the preface to the book before us, and if the statement which it contains be true, the inquiry naturally suggests itself, why, of all his contemporaries, Mr. Jefferson should have enjoyed the peculiar love, or felt the peculiar hatred of those who knew him? If it could with propriety be said that the times, in which he lived, furnished no other individual of equal merit, our question perhaps would be one of easy solution; for it might be said, distinguished worth at once begets regard and provokes envy; pre-eminent superiority is apt to make both enemies and friends. But when it is remembered that others, whose abilities and patriotic exertions were not inferior to his, also bore their parts in the transactions of those times; one cannot help asking why it is, that, after the exacerbations of party feeling have subsided, and men have ceased to look on events and their actors through the distorting mists of political

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prejudice, the fate of Mr. Jefferson should still be so strikingly different from that of his companions? The grave has closed over other men of the revolution, as worthy, as distinguished, as prominent as he was: their memories are consecrated in the grateful recollection of their countrymen; they are not the subjects of that unenviable notoriety which marks them out as the victims of a peculiar hatred, though they enjoyed an affection as fervent and devoted, as was ever lavished on Mr. Jefferson by his most idolatrous admirer. And this is true of men of both the political parties of a former day. Was the first president of the United States less conspicuous or less useful than the third? Was the third an abler or a better man than the fourth? How then does it happen that George Washington and James Madison have escaped the dangerous eulogies of a too zealous friendship, and the bitter revilings of a relentless animosity, while Thomas Jefferson, as our author informs us, suffered from both?

Whence is it that at the present day, so many are ready to lift their voices in condemnation of Mr. Jefferson, while no man whispers a syllable against the name of George Washington? Why is it that of all the men who figured largely in the early history of our existence as an independent nation, scarcely one has been arraigned, as Mr. Jefferson has, at the bar of the public? A particular charge may indeed at times have been preferred against some one or other of his contemporaries; they may have been not entirely guiltless, though political animosity greatly exaggerated the enormity of the alleged crime: but time rolled on, and as men's minds cooled, they made all necessary and charitable allowances, and the accusations are now for the most part forgotten. But not so with Mr. Jefferson. The charges against him have not been permitted thus to hide themselves in the usually safe recess of tedious and unread documentary history. They have been dragged to light, and presented in a form more attractive to the general reader: books have been written (not by literary adventurers) but by men of name, of which, he and his delinquencies have formed the fruitful theme. The lapse of time has not shielded him; "the maledictions of his enemies, (says Professor Tucker) have of late years, been more frequent and loud than the commendations of his friends." Now this is true, and for this there must be

a cause.

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Mr. Jefferson "in his high and palmy state was a demigod, the popular voice was on his side. We well remember, when, by some, it was deemed but little short of treason to doubt his purity, or question his political sagacity. It was then in

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